Royal Society Report on Data Sharing

Although Geoffrey Boulton was the lead author, the Royal Society report on data sharing published today was surprisingly even handed. (h/t Bishop Hill.)

Climate Audit and McIntyre S receive a cameo mention on page 40:

At the other extreme, there is a small, but increasingly numerous body of engaged “citizen scientists” that wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue. They are developing an increasingly powerful “digital voice,” though many lack formal training in their area of interest…. Some ask tough and illuminating questions, exposing important errors and elisions.102 (102 McIntyre S (2012). Climate Audit. Available at: http://www.climateaudit.org/)

The term “citizen scientist” is not a term that I use nor one that I like. In addition, most of the core Climate Audit commenters not only have formal training in statistics, but their formal training in statistics generally substantially exceeds that of the authors being criticized. The dispute is between formally trained statisticians and statistically-amateur and sometimes incompetent real_climate_scientists.

The Report refers to FOI events more accurately than either Nature or the Muir Russell report:

The potential loss of trust in the scientific enterprise through failure to recognise the legitimate public interest in scientific information was painfully exemplified in the furore surrounding the improper release of emails from the University of East Anglia.99 These emails suggested systematic attempts to prevent access to data about one of the great global issues of the day – climate change. The researchers had failed to respond to repeated requests for sight of the data underpinning their publications, so that those seeking data had no recourse other than to use the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to request that the data be released.

The need to invoke FoIA reflects a failure to observe what this report regards as should be a crucial tenet for science, that of openness in providing data on which published claims are based.

Nature and the climate community have been wilfully obtuse to CRU’s obstruction leading up to FOI requests.

There are many comments about adverse results which are ones that I endorse.

Perhaps even a comment that applies to the screening fallacy as applied and/or endorsed by real_climate_scientists:

Good science , simply put, “looks at all the evidence (rather than cherry picking only favourable evidence), uses controls for variables so we can identify what is actually working, uses blind observations so as to minimise the effects of bias, and uses internally consistent logic.”103 To ignore this kind of rigour is at the least poor practice.

All the evidence. Not just the evidence selected by ex post correlation screening.


111 Comments

  1. Vincent Guerrini PhD
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 7:55 AM | Permalink

    Well we seem to be getting somewhere at least. An improvement definitely from the powers to be in this matter.

  2. observer
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    Relevant to this issue, I saw the following statement on a webpage describing a network simulation software package that runs on a virtual machine—an architecture that makes replicating results easier.

    “If you are reading a great SIGCOMM (or other) paper about a Software-Defined Network, wouldn’t you like to be able to click, download and run a living, breathing example of the system? If so, consider developing a Mininet version of your own system that you can share with others. (Alternately, if you fear others reproducing – and possibly contradicting – your published results, an easily shared and downloaded version of your system may not be desirable!)”

    It seems to me that this quotation explains well the advantages and disadvantages of data sharing.

    Observer.

    See http://yuba.stanford.edu/foswiki/bin/view/OpenFlow/MininetSampleWorkflow.

    • observer
      Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

      Another nice example of code sharing in the computer networking world:

      http://www.pollere.net/CoDel.html

      Key quote:
      The ns-2 codel.cc reflects the code used to produce the results in the [authors'] ACM Queue paper.

  3. John
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    Wow. Boulton, even. Makes me think that all the previous obfuscation was for specific political or practical reasons, e.g., keep Jones and company out of reach of prosecution, keep them onboard, and now that we are no longer defending them in the forum in which they must be defended, we can come clean about data availability.

    Cynical? You bet. What’s your explanation?

  4. Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

    so now we have five official criteria to tell bad from good science. for example Gergis’ comes out with 5 out of 5 and is a total failure.

    I’d say only papers scoring no more than 1 should be allowed through peer-review.

  5. Ted Swart
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    Getting the Royal Society to come round even to this extent is a major milestone since they have failed abysmally to be even handed up until now. This “citizen scientist” label is a bit cheap. I suspect there are dozens and dozens of climate audit frequenters that have Ph.D.s or masters degrees in engineering or science or mathematics or all three.

    • Paul Matthews
      Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

      See the Reader Background thread at the Air Vent blog – over 40 science PhDs.

  6. ursus augustus
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    That reads and hopefully bodes well for the future. We have been commenting in Australia about the Bain et al paper in Nature, the ‘denier’ one to which the lead author Dr Paul Bain has graciously conceded that the use of the denier term is offensive to climate skeptics, polarises the debate and then becomes a badge of honor. Erwin Rommel once referred to the Australian and other British forces surrounded in the town of Tobruk as being ‘trapped like rats”. The ‘Rats of Tobruk’ is to this day one of the prouder noms de guerre earned by Australian forces and they gave the Afrika Korps a right belting to boot. In other words using gartuitous insults to intelligent, capable and indepent moinded people is dumb and counterproductive.

    I get a sense that the tone of the debate may be at a tipping point, not in the sense that the ‘team’ alarmists will go all soft and welcoming but that the public, much of academia and public administration have had a gutful of the catfight it has become. I think the steady voice of reason, ideas about rational improvements to energy efficiency and the general efficiency of cities and all the infrastructure of civilisation will be listened to as being positive whether or not AGW is a real problem or not. In other words ideas for sensible, credible reforms that make sense CAGW, some AGW or no AGW will win hearts and minds.

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

      One prime example of the chaaange here in America is Pew Center. I think the climate division was instigated by Lehman Bros or other traders. Here’s their new headline:

      As the proud successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and recently named the world’s top environmental think tank, C2ES provides independent analysis and innovative solutions to the twin challenges of energy and climate change.

      When they say “proud,” they probably mean “embarassed.” All the American NGO big money machines are moving away from the CO2 game to things like “energy solutions.” But still, FTM:

      http://www.c2es.org/about/strategic-partners

      and

      http://www.c2es.org/about/board

      Same money as before the change. As for Australia, I don’t know, the Green-Big Finance alliance is very strong. I think you will have several more years of hostility.

      • Derek
        Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

        I don’t have a problem with “energy solutions” — we DO need new energy solutions, more efficient use, etc. I am all for energy independence due to strategic and national security concerns but what we DON’T need are bogus economic controls based on specious science centered around a fairly harmless gas.

        … and I am irritated to no end by people who don’t understand basic physics trying to claim skepticism about AGW being “anti-science”.

        • Follow the Money
          Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

          “I don’t have a problem with “energy solutions””

          The “” marks are representative of the fact that their primary motive is not a “solution,” but the money. Any “solution” Pew offers will coincide with the current best interests of their patrons Royal Dutch Shell, Entergy, and what ever hedge funds.

          Yes, your concerns are correct. But these NGOs are not working towards your goals. They appropriate your language and concerns and parasite your goals. All the time selling themselves as “progressive” or “environmentalist” or “good liberals” or whatever. They are not for the best interests or the common good, even if they say they are. FTM.

  7. ursus augustus
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Permalink

    Yes, I admit – I am a romantic but what the heck?

  8. TAC
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

    This is good news. Having worked in government with both public and classified information for over 25 years, I have become convinced that public interests are better served when data are openly available and subject to scrutiny (the exceptions — personnel records; defense-related information, proprietary (commercial) secrets, etc., are not relevant here). In my experience, refusal to release data, which happens far too frequently, is sometimes connected with malfeasance and almost always associated with incompetence. “The dispute is between formally trained statisticians and statistically-amateur and sometimes incompetent real_climate_scientists” — is spot on and sadly typical: Incompetent people rely on secrecy to cloak their incompetence. It’s their only path, the only one they are capable of seeing and traversing.

  9. Frank
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    Most of the authors of this report are from medical fields. Two conflicted parties, Boulton and Campbell, seem to be the main authors knowledgeable about climate science.

    The recommendations seem make no mention of the need to archive computer programs created by ambiguity in skimpy methodology sections and the possibility of errors in complex analyses.

    If the elite authors of this report really cared about “citizen scientists” – who are usually well-qualified scientists working outside their area of speciality – they would have sought input from them.

    The need for transparency in publishing information that might allow “rogue nations” or terrorists to create pandemic viruses is discussed on page 58.

    • Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

      If the elite authors of this report really cared about “citizen scientists” – who are usually well-qualified scientists working outside their area of speciality – they would have sought input from them.

      Indeed – with this qualification: the “citizen scientists” here are likely to be well-qualified scientists / statisticians / etc working within their area of expertise but outside their paid jobs.

      • Jon Grove
        Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 4:27 AM | Permalink

        Yep, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the specific relevant comment was not solely directed at Climate Audit, the wider discussion of climatology. Instead Climate Audit was named as one notable example. The elided sentence in the quotation reads:

        Some have been highly sceptical about research findings on issues such as GM crops, nanotechnology, HIV/ AIDS, anthropogenic climate change, etc.

        The continuation of the statement is rather interesting isn’t it, making it clear that where scientists make their data freely available, the status of the ‘citizen scientist’ is greatly enhanced — the point being that the question is not about whether you belong to the right club, but about whether or not you have open access to the rock-face:

        ‘Others have effectively become members of particular scientific communities by dint of their rigorous and valuable observations and measurements, and become formally involved in scientific projects (see Box 2.4). The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to this citizen science community, and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of the citizen science movement could turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science, in blurring the professional/amateur divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science. Free or affordable access to scientific journals and data would provide important encouragement to the movement.’

        You need to digest the whole text before you comment on its spirit and significance.

        • stan
          Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

          But the whole notion of “citizen scientist” is offensive to the extent that it demonstrates a constipated mind set that separates a credentialed elite from the public. How nice that those with credentials have deigned to notice that some others might have something interesting to say! The very notion that there are pros and amateurs when it comes to science ignores history and shows us an unhealthy approach to the concept of what science really is.

          Open data and transparency are good because they allow people to see the work that is being used to impact policy. Anyone genuinely interested in the advancement of science immediately understands that the quality of an idea is independent of the existence of a credential.

          If truth is to triumph on Milton’s field, all of its potential champions need to be able to enter the fray. Instead of focusing on the credentials of the champions, it would be far more productive to focus on the strength of the swords and the sharpness of their spears.

        • Jon Grove
          Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

          Once again: ‘The growth of the citizen science movement could turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science, in blurring the professional/amateur divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science’.

          What’s not to like?

        • Frank
          Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

          Jon Grove: Thanks for adding the quote to balance my comments. However, if you think that McIntyre or McKitrick have “effectively become members of particular scientific communities” (after almost a decade of contributions), I’d say your dreaming. One brave scientist asked Steve to speak at a dendro meeting and had to withdraw the invitation when he couldn’t get anyone else to speak at the same session. M&M couldn’t get a reply published to Santer et al (2008?) on the alleged hot spot in the upper tropical troposphere showing that Santer’s own methods showed observations and climate models were statistically inconsistent if the most recent data was included. If the Royal Society really believed the contributions of citizen scientists were important, they should have consulted with them. Actions speak louder than words.

          “Citizen scientists” (we desperately need a better term) are a great way to combat “group think” in science. However, politics is “group think” taken to the extreme and politicized science will do everything it can to citizen scientists from having an impact.

  10. DG
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    “citizen scientist”= unqualified
    “government scientist”= infallible

    Got it.

  11. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM | Permalink

    If citizen scientist means not having a Ph.D. and not working in a university, then Darwin was one (along with most of his contemporaries, since there were few formal “science” jobs in those days).
    It is good that they can say all the right things in the generic case but too bad they don’t practice in the particular case, esp when it comes down to their own data.

  12. Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    I suspect that Boulton is simply trying to arrange for his exit from this particular sinking ship. Will the ex-UK Chief Government Advisor on Climate Change, and slick UEA ex-employee and ‘independent’ white washer be able to execute this complex maneuver?

    • Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

      The technical phrase for this is “the ship is deserting the sinking rats.”

  13. Anoneumouse
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    One assumes scientists are citizens too. However, “citizen scientist” has a better ring to it than ‘establishment scientist’ which is what Geoffrey Boulton represents.

    • johanna
      Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

      What on earth is a ‘citizen scientist’? Is the distinction whether a person is formally employed by a scientific establishment or not? If so, it is a load of condescending cobblers.

      We have ample evidence that there are plenty of mediocre and even incompetent scientists who are thus employed, and plenty of very good ones who are not, including those who are retired, work in private sector jobs or practice science in their spare time in a very serious way. Just look at all the astronomical discoveries lately by ‘amateurs’ since stargazing equipment became cheaper and more accessible. And, these people didn’t just luck in – we find that they have spent years gazing and photographing in their own time at their own expense.

      I submit also Time Team denizen Phil Harding, who left school at 16 and has contributed at least as much, and in many cases more, than many people with formal qualifications and tenured jobs in archaeology.

      These people need to get over themselves.

  14. theduke
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    Yes, “citizen scientist” is a bit patronizing, although the authors were obviously not as sensitive to semantic considerations as the readership of ClimateAudit.

    I suggest “independent scientist.” Or, just for fun, how about “free-range scientist?”

    • André van Delft
      Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

      Yes; “independent scientist” as opposed to “dependent scientist”

  15. theduke
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    Lots of great money quotes throughout the report. Here’s one:

    A great deal of data has become detached from the published conclusions that depend upon it, such that the two vital complementary components of the scientific endeavour – the idea and the evidence – are too frequently separated. This represents a serious data-gap that is inimical to the rigorous scrutiny to which scientific conclusions should be subject, thereby undermining the principle of self-correction. The principle must be maintained so that the data underlying a scientific argument is accessible for rigorous analysis and replication, and ways must be found to reconnect them.

  16. michael hart
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    I think other competent minds are slowly arriving at the field, and Geoffrey Boulton is welcome.

    Understanding is advanced by science when null hypotheses are [correctly] rejected. Climate-change science is hindered because it’s practitioners don’t experience having to confirm the null hypothesis often enough. They have too much personal investment in their own hypotheses.

    An industrious synthetic organic chemist performing research can expect to have an experiment fail every day. That’s a lot of failed/rejected hypotheses over the course of a career. It comes with the territory. Some well known names in climate-change science will be well retired before they are able to publicly accept a significant failed experiment.

    I’ve said much the same thing at Judith Curry’s blog, using the medical profession as a counter-example.

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/04/25/education-and-the-art-of-uncertainty/#comment-195649

  17. observa
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Citizen scientist not qualified to comment on data + public scientist not qualified to release data = citizen kaned

  18. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    Come on guys and girls, political types know exactly what words to use when pontificating to the unwashed masses and providing a message they might want to hear. Unfortunately that often means that nothing is going to change and particularly when high sounding words and phrases are used without specific and directed calls to action. I strongly suspect that these words are used more in the vein of a public relations spin on the message from the climate science community and that those providing these words are very much in the consensus camp and are, in effect, saying the consensus message is true we just need to state it in better terms.

    Some truth does leak out of these statements, however, with regard to the citizen-scientist doing the job that a number of well-placed climate scientists fail to do and that is ask the hard questions and do the sensitivity testing that these scientists neglect doing. If the statements had included something in the way of explaining these science failures as a matter of the advocacy positions of the scientists involved I might be more encouraged that progress is being made. Unfortunately I think we are a long way from that point.

  19. Soilpest
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

    I strongly echo and amplify TAC’s comments and sentiments…..I had over 40 years experience as a government scientist and came to the same conclusions about data witholding and competencies of such scientists witholding data. That has been my take on the whole CAGW debate since I began following it in the 1990’s.

    And thank you for Steve’s graceful comment about formally trained statisticians and statistically incompetent scientists…..too true, and not just climate scientists!

  20. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    Citizen scientist – replaces “denier”??
    Let’s wait and see what they will say when a really bad paper comes out – the real test.

  21. KnR
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    Lets see them now try to make their buddies in the CRU etc practice what is being preached. For its not enough to say what should be done you have call out those not doing who should be . And so fare in that they failed miserably .

  22. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    The citizen-scientist reference is not new to me, but it brought to mind a potential differing view on the matter of the mixing of “professionals” and “amateurs”. My son related a story to me this weekend about some coaching he was receiving in high school for high jumping some 30 years ago. He said his “coach” was unpaid but was at one time a world class high jumper. He was currently the janitor at the high school. I asked my son how he was received by the paid coaches since I would expect them to plying him with questions. My son recounted that while nothing overtly hostile was said to or about his unpaid coach, the paid coaches made no initiatives to communicate with him. I thought what a waste.

  23. dearieme
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    “The term “citizen scientist” is not a term that I use nor one that I like.”

    Consider “civil scientist”: no-one could think Micky Mann, Gavin Smirk or the CRU twerps remotely civil.

  24. pdtillman
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

    >The term “citizen scientist” is not a term that I use nor one that I like.

    Well, it beats the hell out of “denier scum”….

  25. E. Z. Duzzit
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

    Smoke screen pure and simple. Published conclusions based on secret data is the very antithesis of science. “Pscience” (psuedo-science) I call it.

  26. RobWansbeck
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    From the excellent BBC series ‘Weather':

    “ Hadley was an amateur. In fact he was so amateur that no image exists. “

    Amateur as he was he was also a Fellow of the Royal Society when he published his paper on trade winds.

    The modern leaders of the Royal Society seem to have lost touch with their heritage.

  27. Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    What bothers me is that Boulton did not come here and ask what word or phrase we would like to see used to describe ourselves. In that context, “citizen scientist” might well have been considered ok. Now it seems patronizing and with a continuing liability of devaluing people’s worth here.

    Boulton wouldn’t dare use a word for coloured people that they themselves did not like.

  28. kim
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Citizen Kulak.
    ======

  29. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

    I personally find nothing offensive about the term citizen-scientist and particularly in the light of what could be the term used for the reference of those who were initially involved with government and politics in the US. The citizen-politician or elected official was an “amateur” and not a professional politician. They were intended to serve as disinterested parties who had other interests outside of politics and being a life-long politician would have been like imposing a long prison sentence – or so the theory went.

  30. Bruce Stewart
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    Citizen scientist sounds like a compliment to me, and I would like to believe it was intended as such. My apologies for being blunt, but your disapproving it leaves an impression of peevishness, which detracts from your main message.

  31. harry
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

    I note that Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis (1905) occurred while he was working at a Patent Office, so he would have been described as a rather effective “citizen scientist”.

  32. Ed Barbar
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

    Anyone up to speed on the reformation? It definitely spurred forward the Renaissance.

    Before the reformation, and the printing press, the Bible was only readable by the initiated. The monks and priests would come down from on high and tell everyone what the unified word was.

    Climate Science is another example of that attempt. But it’s not the only one. I listened to a “blogging heads TV” diavlog, they call them, in which some professor was advocating the same thing. That there needed to be a parallel language. One that the academic elite understood, but that the proles could not. It makes the ideas easier to accept that way, see.

    Yes, the Monks of climate science aren’t much different than the monks of the per-reformation, claiming ownership of the word, and selling indulgences. This time, they want more, though. And they offer nothing.

  33. Jeff C
    Posted Jun 21, 2012 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    I also don’t understand the offense at “citizen scientist”. It simply implies the individual is participating out of a sense of principal and civic obligation rather than for a paycheck. How is that a bad thing? The term citizen journalist has long been used on the political blogs in a complimentary fashion. It is considered a badge of honor.

    Many seem to think citizen scientist actually means amateur or unqualified scientist. Perhaps that is what the Boulton meant, if so it is a departure from how the term is applied to other endeavors.

    • Dean_1230
      Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 6:33 AM | Permalink

      Careful, Jeff. Even “amateur” doesn’t always mean unqualified. All you have to do is look at the amateur astronomy arena to see just how qualified these people can be. Amateur astronomy is also a prime example of how “real” scientists and “amateurs” can interact for the benefit of all.

    • James Smyth
      Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

      I also don’t understand the offense at “citizen scientist”

      Neither do I. It echos citizen soldier in my mind.

      • Don McIlvin
        Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

        Yes, but Citizen Soldiers a la the Minutemen were not professional soldiers. Historically, even in the American Revolution, the militia (citizen soldiers) did not perform as well as the “Continentals” (i.e. trained and drilled soldiers) or British regulars. Not to say the citizen soldiers (militia) in the revolution didn’t have their moments of success and bravery, or roles such as snipers where certain skills (and weapons) were even superior.

  34. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    The term”scientific citizen” carries less slur.
    …………………..
    One must admire Steve and his handful of close associates. Few if any people who have been more influential in bringing proper science into this climate free-for-all.
    Can you imagine the regime under which we would now be suffering if these skilled people had not steadied the global warming ship?
    …………………..
    Geoffrey Boulton makes the observation the in clip above that the world has trashed its economy and is on the way to trashing the environment. This is too simplistic and escapist. The correct manner of expression is that futile experiments on global actions, some scientific, some engineering, some economic, some nice trips and freee lunches, have diverted studies of science, engineering and economics down too many barren paths. The economy would not now need such dramatic repair if the last 2 decades had seen progress derived from more worthy topics.

    It’s almost akin to a post-war depression. In this case, the war could have been avoided had it not been for the greed of the robber barons.(ref large international banks and insurers, especially European).

    • Ted Swart
      Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

      To George Sherrington.
      That’s a lovely suggestion George — “scientific citizens” is exactly what most of us here on CA are.

  35. E. Z. Duzzit
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 1:52 AM | Permalink

    A lot of commenters are suckering in way too easily on this issue. “Citizen-Scientist” is a deliberately demeaning term with the intention of, at best, damning with faint praise.

    snip

  36. Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 5:01 AM | Permalink

    Good work Steve, getting the Royal Society to speak up like this. Anyone who knows a bit of statistics certainly understands that you are far more qualified than those that you criticize. Unfortunately statistics understanding is often woefully inadequate even amoung publishing scientists.

  37. LearDog
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 7:29 AM | Permalink

    You are having a collosal impact on science, sir. Hats off to you and your colleagues for helping turn this state of affairs….

  38. ferd berple
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Good science , simply put, “looks at all the evidence (rather than cherry picking only favourable evidence), uses controls for variables so we can identify what is actually working, uses blind observations so as to minimise the effects of bias,
    ====================
    tree ring science.

    1) use sighted observations to select data and methods
    2) include no control samples to validate experiment
    2) publish only the results that support the hypothesis

    tree ring circus is more accurate.

  39. ferd berple
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    citizen-scientist
    ============
    This term implies that the alternative is scientists that are not citizens. Alien-scientists.

    A better term is “self-funded” or rather than “privately-funded” or “government-funded”.

    The obvious benefit of self-funded scientists is that they are beholden to no-one. They can let the chips fall where they will.

    Government and privately funded scientists have no such luxury. It is a foolish scientist indeed that bites the hand that feeds them.

    As a result, science has become much more a pursuit of political and economic goals than a search for underlying facts.

    The citizen-scientist, the self-funded scientist remains the last honest broker in the debate. All other are beholden to their masters.

  40. ferd berple
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    Geoffrey Boulton makes the observation the in clip above that the world has trashed its economy and is on the way to trashing the environment.
    ===============
    Lawyers run much of the government, and lawyers think in terms of passing new laws to solve old problems. To solve the problem of old people eating dog food, make it illegal to sell dog food to old people. Problem solved.

  41. fastfreddy101
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    Citizen Robespierre: “We’ve still got the guillotine!”

  42. theduke
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Let’s see: you’ve got your citizen soldier, citizen journalist, and citizen sentries who can make a citizen’s arrest. All of these appear to be extra-professionals aiding in or augmenting the work of trained professionals. In this sense, Steve has a point. He and the professional scientists on this website and others are doing far more than that. They are falsifying and correcting the work of trained professionals who in many cases are doing shoddy work.

    That said, I think one needs to look at the intent of someone who uses the term “citizen scientist.” In Boulton’s case, I think he meant to flatter those who are contributing to the science in new and unorthodox ways. If, however, you heard someone like Mann or Jones or Schmidt use the term, you’d suspect their intent was to demean.

    Here’s a quote that I think relevant, although it’s not specifically about science. It is from a man who is widely considered to be the father of modern law enforcement practice and methodology. He wrote:

    “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen.”
– Sir Robert Peel

  43. Skiphil
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

    Congrats, Steve, clearly your work is becoming more noticed, respected, and influential, even when scientists don’t give credit as due. I hope you might allow this praise on the thread from Garth Paltridge, since it substantiates how your work is becoming recognized:



    “Whatever the reason, it is indeed vastly more difficult to publish results in climate research journals if they run against the tide of politically correct opinion. Which is why most of the sceptic literature on the subject has been forced onto the web, and particularly onto web-logs devoted to the sceptic view of things. Which, in turn, is why the more fanatical of the believers in anthropogenic global warming insist that only peer-reviewed literature should be accepted as an indication of the real state of affairs. They argue that the sceptic web-logs should never be taken seriously by “real” scientists, and certainly should never be quoted. Which is a great pity. Some of the sceptics are extremely productive as far as critical analysis of climate science is concerned. Names like Judith Curry (chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta), Steve McIntyre (a Canadian geologist-statistician) and blogger Willis Eschenbach come to mind. These three in particular provide a balance and maturity in public discussion that puts many players in the global warming movement to shame, and as a consequence their outreach to the scientifically inclined general public is highly effective. Their output, together with that of other sceptics on the web, is fast becoming a practical and stringent substitute for peer review.”

    • theduke
      Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

      That’s a very impressive editorial.

    • Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 6:46 AM | Permalink

      I’m late to this discussion on CA but I also find that quote really significant. Remember that James Lovelock made clear to Leo Hickman in the Guardian back in March 2010, as Boulton was still limbering up with the whitewash for Muir Russell, that of all sceptic scientists Garth Paltridge is the one he found the most impressive. This statement by Paltridge, much more than the latest effusion from the Royal Society – good though much of it is – tells me that Steve and Willis are finally coming in from the cold. And Judy has led the way in opening the way. What a great thing.

    • theduke
      Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

      And yet, this article claims that the IPCC will increasingly use “grey literature” in its upcoming report. It was linked and discussed yesterday at Science 2.0.

      Of course the “grey literature” will need to be of a certain type.

      The article also discusses attempts by the IPCC to be more representative (read politically correct) in matters of gender and geography.

      • Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

        Good old Fred Pearce. Spurred on by journalists of integrity like that science needs to stand up and put the IPCC out of its misery. Paul Nurse and Geoffrey Boulton meeting with Steve to work out how to get climate science back on track would be a useful preliminary step, as I mooted on Bishop Hill. Which is another way of saying we’re not exactly there yet.

  44. LearDog
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Given the rich British tradition of independently funded citizens looking into (and exploring) all things ‘natural’ – the term ‘Citizen Scientist’ communicates with the public I think. Without them, the UK wouldn’t have been at the forefront of so many scientific endeavors (and Institutions).

    Its a good thing I think. Glad that you are identified by name. :-D

  45. theduke
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Did Darwin, Einstein, or Edison think of themselves as “citizen scientist(s)?”

    I would think not. I’m guessing that they would think that the term “scientist” would be adequate. Do we really want to compromise and say that Michael Mann is a “scientist” and what Steve McIntyre is requires further elucidation?

  46. John Archer
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

    There’s no need for any of this “citizen scientist” or any other buzzword junk, especially “the-this-that-or-the-other community“, a favourite of the peecee sturmabteilung, where most often the putative members have nothing whatsoever to do with each other beyond sharing some unhappy characteristic.

    I’m no prose merchant but would have changed some of the junk in that report to something along the following lines in plainspeak. (I’d have preferred to make other changes in these paragraphs too but I’ll keep things to a minimum here.)

    ———–
    (1) ORIGINAL (page 8):
    Recent decades have seen an increased demand from citizens, civic groups and non-governmental organisations for greater scrutiny of the evidence that underpins scientific conclusions. In some fields, there is growing participation by members of the public in research programmes, as so-called citizen scientists: blurring the divide between professional and amateur in new ways.

    EDITS:
    Recent decades have seen an increased demand from citizens, civic groups and non-governmental organisations members of the public for greater scrutiny of the evidence that underpins scientific conclusions. In some fields, there is their growing participation by members of the public in research programmes, as so-called citizen scientists: is blurring the divide between professional career scientists engaged in their respective fields and amateur the rest of the public in new ways.  

    RESULT:
    Recent decades have seen an increased demand from members of the public for greater scrutiny of the evidence that underpins scientific conclusions. In some fields, their growing participation in research programmes is blurring the divide between career scientists engaged in their respective fields and the rest of the public in new ways.

    ———–
    (2) ORIGINAL (page 39):
    At the other extreme, there is a small, but increasingly numerous body of engaged “citizen scientists” that wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue.

    EDITS:
    At the other extreme, there is a small , but increasingly numerous body of engaged “citizen scientists” that but growing number of interested members of the public—some  eminently qualified— who wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue.

    RESULT:
    At the other extreme, there is a small but growing number of interested members of the public—some eminently qualified—who wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue.

    ———–
    (3) ORIGINAL (page 40):
    The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to this citizen science community, and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of the citizen science movement could turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science, in blurring the professional/amateur divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science.

    EDITS:
    The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to
    this citizen science community, the public and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of the citizen science movement this public participationcould turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science, in blurring the professional/amateur career-scientist/interested-public divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science.

    RESULT:
    The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to the public and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of this public participation could turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science,  in blurring the career-scientist/interested-public divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science.

    In addition the term “citizen science project” appears twice on page 40. This could be avoided by substituting “public participation” for “citizen” and tweaking the surrounding wording a little. Also, where possible I generally prefer to use the word “people” (or, if one must, “persons”) to “members of the public” but sometimes the latter is necessary for clarity.

    [I hope my formatting works. It's tricky on an iPad. Maybe there's an app?]

    • John Archer
      Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

      Oh well….

  47. John Archer
    Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    Maybe I could try again if someone would be kind enough to delete my first attempt:

     There’s no need for any of this “citizen scientist” or any other buzzword junk, especially “the-this-that-or-the-other community“, a favourite of the peecee sturmabteilung, where most often the putative members have nothing whatsoever to do with each other beyond sharing some unhappy characteristic.

    I’m no prose merchant but would have changed some of the junk in that report to something along the following lines in plainspeak. (I’d have preferred to make other changes in these paragraphs too but I’ll keep things to a minimum here.)

    ———–
    (1) ORIGINAL (page 8):
    Recent decades have seen an increased demand from citizens, civic groups and non-governmental organisations for greater scrutiny of the evidence that underpins scientific conclusions. In some fields, there is growing participation by members of the public in research programmes, as so-called citizen scientists: blurring the divide between professional and amateur in new ways.

    EDITS:
    Recent decades have seen an increased demand from citizens, civic groups and non-governmental organisations members of the public for greater scrutiny of the evidence that underpins scientific conclusions. In some fields, there is their growing participation by members of the public in research programmes, as so-called citizen scientists: is blurring the divide between professional career scientists engaged in their respective fields and amateur the rest of the public in new ways.  

    RESULT:
    Recent decades have seen an increased demand from members of the public for greater scrutiny of the evidence that underpins scientific conclusions. In some fields, their growing participation in research programmes is blurring the divide between career scientists engaged in their respective fields and the rest of the public in new ways.

    ———–
    (2) ORIGINAL (page 39):
    At the other extreme, there is a small, but increasingly numerous body of engaged “citizen scientists” that wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue.

    EDITS:
    At the other extreme, there is a small , but increasingly numerous body of engaged “citizen scientists” that but growing number of interested members of the public—some  eminently qualified— who wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue.

    RESULT:
    At the other extreme, there is a small but growing number of interested members of the public—some eminently qualified—who wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue.

    ———–
    (3) ORIGINAL (page 40):
    The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to this citizen science community, and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of the citizen science movement could turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science, in blurring the professional/amateur divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science.

    EDITS:
    The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to this citizen science community, the public and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of the citizen science movement this public participationcould turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science, in blurring the professional/amateur career-scientist/interested-public divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science.

    RESULT:
    The increased availability of major open databases is increasingly proving to be an asset to the public and a way to increase their contribution to scientific progress. The growth of this public participation could turn out to be a major shift in the social dynamics of science,  in blurring the career-scientist/interested-public divide and changing the nature of the public engagement with science.

    In addition the term “citizen science project” appears twice on page 40. This could be avoided by substituting “public participation” for “citizen” and tweaking the surrounding wording a little. Also, where possible I generally prefer to use the word “people” (or, if one must, “persons”) to “members of the public” but sometimes the latter is necessary for clarity.

    [I hope my formatting works. It's tricky on an iPad. Maybe there's an app?]

    • John Archer
      Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

      Underscoring doesn’t come out.

      • kim
        Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

        Whatsh’ matta, John? Rags to word riches, prose, I suppose.
        =============

        • John Archer
          Posted Jun 22, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

          Kim, I don’t understand what you are trying to convey. It’s a little too elliptical for me. Could you put it more clearly please?

        • kim
          Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

          Raving at your flogging of the royal ragged rags of thought.
          ======================

  48. durango12
    Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    “Citizen scientist” indeed. This sneering condescending term exposes the Mandarin science aristocracy for what it is. It sees itself as the grantor of truth, speaking as ex cathedra as any Pope. They are what is wrong with science today.

  49. Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    I like the title “citizen scientists.” It means not on anyone’s payroll, at least when attending to scientific interests.

    It puts those so named in the company not only of a myriad harmless and sometimes amusing cranks but also of Charles Darwin, Thomas Bayes, C.S. Pierce, Grigori Perelman, and what’s his name, the guy at the Zurich Patent Office.

  50. John Archer
    Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    To British ears “citizen” has a horrible froggo/continental/commie ring to it. That’s why I don’t like it. (Yes, I know we’re “subjects” of the Crown but it’s just a word to us. Besides, we’re not averse to chopping monarchs’ heads off if they get too big for their boots. They’ve been on notice for the last 360+ years.)

    No, the only scientists who need ‘qualifying’ here are the institutional/career type. A scientist is a scientist is a scientist, but if he happens to work for the CRU or whatever then he’s the one who needs a label, not the rest.

    Reading Nature can seriously damage your mental health.

    • Jon Grove
      Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

      I’m not sure that all British people share the same ears.

      Winston Churchill: “The House will have read the historic declaration in which, at the desire of many Frenchmen–and of our own hearts–we have proclaimed our willingness at the darkest hour in French history to conclude a union of common citizenship in this struggle. However matters may go in France or with the French Government, or other French Governments, we in this Island and in the British Empire will never lose our sense of comradeship with the French people.”

      Abraham Lincoln (no pinko he, I believe) had quite a good line too: ““If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem”.

      • Jon Grove
        Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

        And come to think of it even Voltaire (who may have been French but could hardly be called a communist) can deliver a sharp line for a contemporary pro-citizenry movement: ““All the citizens of a state cannot be equally powerful, but they may be equally free””.

    • Jon Grove
      Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

      As regards Nature, are you referring to the journal which on 15 February 2001 published the draft human genome? If so I’m not sure your assessment of it is accurate.

      • John Archer
        Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

        I’m not sure that all British people share the same ears.” [Jon Grove]

        Oh, I’m sure that’s true. But it depends on context. When it’s used in the qualifying/adjectival/nominal way, as in “citizen scientist”, it does have an alien, continental, commune, komrade ring to it, to my ears at least. Whereas in your examples it’s in straight noun form and is pretty innocuous. BTW, I’m not really quite as culturally jingoistic as my remarks made out — I was hamming it up somewhat. But not too much. :)

        Even so, that’s the least of it. I was just adding my take as an additional slant, and no doubt a somewhat minor one at that — after all I don’t expect the rest of the English-speaking world to share our [OK, my] prejudices. For me the main point is that I too see “citizen scientist” as an attempt at painting the targets as inferior mortals.

        As for Nature, yes. It depends on the discipline though. Nevertheless I got cheesed off with it years ago and had the subscription I was paying for cancelled because I couldn’t stand its editorialising and its (often subtextual) political agenda. There was no way I was going to continue paying to support a mindset I’m deeply opposed to. Ditto ScienceScientific American and, especially, New Scientist. Where I can, I now try to persuade others not to pay for them too. Developments in klimate ‘science’ have served only to convince me further that I did the right thing. Reading them for free is a different matter.

        The thing that bothers me now that this whole business is so politicised (indeed criminalised, in my view) is that we’re getting all this social junk infecting everything. I used to think science was a refuge from that kind of thing. Not any longer though. For heaven’s sake, we’re now arguing about the names people call each other, but rightly so now that the perps have dragged the ‘arguments’ into that domain. It’s the science and the scientific arguments alone that should constitute the focus, not people and the names they call each other. But it’s too late now;  you can’t simply ignore it.

        Seeing as we now have to have a name, I suppose, for the likes of Steve, I like theduke’s and RomanM’s suggestion of ‘independent scientist‘ or something very similar. But I wouldn’t stop there. The other side needs to be named too. So what better than the complementary ‘non-independent scientist‘ or, better yet, ‘dependent scientist‘. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Pregnant with implications of self-interest reflecting a true state of affairs.  :lol:

        P.S. I like ‘payroll scientist‘ better: “In court today, CRU payroll climate scientist, Phil Jones, denied ….

        • MrPete
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

          Re: John Archer (Jun 23 21:14),
          Independent vs Payroll scientists. Love it!

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

          I think “non-payroll” would be more pointed.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

          I agree entirely with Roman’s comment that “citizen scientist” is not complimentary and implies baggage of being menial. Nor do I think that reminiscences about historical figures bear on the terminology in today’s much-changed sociology.

          The term “independent” doesn’t entirely capture matters IMO. Nor does “free lance”. Ross McKitrick, for example, is neither. There is considerable interest in climate from scientists from other fields who are employed by universities. I’ve used the term “professionals and scientists from other fields” to describe what I perceive to be the core CA interest group.

          Climate scientists use the word “community” to describe themselves – an unusual word, when you think about it. I’ve used the word Team, which they don’t like. Jones had no issue to giving data to scientists who were on the Team, but not to scientists who were not on the Team and especially not part of the “community”.

          I think that the salient distinction is that the dissenter/skeptic is not part of the “community” as opposed to the institutional affiliation of the dissenter/skeptic.

        • RomanM
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

          It occurred to me that consensus-scientist (with the hyphen) sort of summed up the community aspect along with the inability to admit error, the need to be activists for “the cause” and to use whatever methods are necessary to defend the consensus as evidenced in the Climategate emails. :)

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

          What about “ordained” versus “unordained”?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

          Perhaps “NSF-dependent”. It’s amazing how NSf funding is not viewed as introducing any potential bias.

        • HaroldW
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

          “Peregrine” has the meaning of “beyond the field”
          From dictionary.com:
          [from] Latin peregrīnus foreign, derivative of peregrē abroad, literally, through (i.e., beyond the borders of) the field

        • John Archer
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

          “I think “non-payroll” would be more pointed.”  [Steve McIntyre]

          Yes. It says so much. A real beauty. On what grounds could the Team possibly object? I love it. Put it out into the public mind and it raises immediate questions. Good ones! :)

          I still intend use ‘[klimate] payroll’ as well when I can.

          BTW I see CS (Jun 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM) got in first with ‘payroll’. He’s a gas. It’s a gas! :)

        • Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 11:46 PM | Permalink

          Re: “Nor do I think that reminiscences about historical figures bear on the terminology in today’s much-changed sociology.”

          Grigori Perelman is not a historical figure. He’s still around doing math.

          And in today’s “sociology,” i.e., a world of increasingly politicized and bureaucratic universities, I would be prepared to bet there will be more not fewer non-payroll scientists or whatever we chose to call them making significant contributions.

          An important factor that will drive this trend is the increase in the number of people with the means and the educational background to do stuff on their own: retired people, family business owners without much business, entrepreneurs who’ve made a billion or two and can do what they like with the last 50 years or so of their lives — whether it be to build space ships, undertake a revolution in automobile design or set up their own research institute.

        • Eddy
          Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

          Steve McIntyre

          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM

          What about “ordained” versus “unordained”?

          —————————————

          Or if you have to keep “civilian”, how about “made” vs “civilian”?

      • stan
        Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

        A reference to a blind squirrel seems apt, but instead let’s just run with a quote from an esteemed scientist —
        “The money-quotes came late on when he talked about “the Nature-Science problem”. He seemed faintly disgusted by the lengths to which some climate scientists will go to get published in Nature or Science with the attendant publicity, media appearances and so on. He sometimes found it difficult to tell which of the Daily Mail and Nature was the peer-reviewed journal and which the tabloid. Nonetheless, he said, his colleagues reassure him that just because something appears in Nature doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.”

        http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/4/wunsch-on-nature.html

  51. johnbuk
    Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    I object most strongly to “citizen scientist” – citizen is fine but the “s” word as in “climate s..”, NO!

  52. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    There is much irony in the “citizen scientist” slur.
    1) There is no requirement in any journal that one even have a high school degree, never mind a Ph.D. No one ever asks or checks.
    2) There is no requirement that one be trained in the field one is publishing a paper on.
    3) Even with a Ph.D., much of what one publishes on (including even the math involved) will not have existed when one got one’s degree, so the degree does not mean much in any case.
    4) There is no degree program broad enough to cover all of “climate science” (in quotes because I’m not sure it is a discipline).

    • RomanM
      Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

      Citizen scientist carries a lot of baggage none of which could be termed complimentary.

      For example, Wikipedia start out with the definition “Citizen science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists”. They continue with a list of Citizen Scientist activities which clearly indicate that such people are suitable for serving in menial roles to help “professional scientists to achieve common goals.” The term is definitely intended as a demeaning description of less educated and less capable subservient individuals.

      After some prolonged thought, I came up with what I think is a more accurate description. I would suggest that the more appropriate designation would be Independent Scientist. It better reflects the fact that many of us are indeed professionals in related scientific fields and we are not subject to the group pressures of supporting the consensus at all costs to our personal integrity nor are we bound to ensure that the golden goose of climate science keeps the research funds flowing.

      I briefly considered the phrase Concerned Scientists, but that had already been subsumed by a collection of activists who are not now nor have they ever been scientists. ;)

      • theduke
        Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

        I concur.

        http://climateaudit.org/2012/06/21/royal-society-report-on-data-sharing/#comment-338927

        • RomanM
          Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

          Sorry, I didn’t see your comment. You beat me to it.

          I would second your suggestion, but Andre seems to have done that already too. :(

        • theduke
          Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

          Roman: great minds think alike. (G)

          I was also thinking “free-lance scientist” might be appropriate.

          But the truth is that you guys are simply “scientists” and no elaboration is needed.

      • Posted Jun 23, 2012 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

        I was thinking that the distinction that matters is between Good Scientist and Mediocre Scientist. In climate the normal correlations with Independent and Dependent simply do not apply. It takes understanding to tell between the Good and the Mediocre and there are no short cuts. Policy makers and journalists need to understand that.

        • John Archer
          Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

          Richard, I have some sympathy with that.

          Of course, if you have a mandate to produce good science and plenty of it then you’re best off hiring good scientists.

          But on the receiving end, which I think is more the emphasis here, it’s the resulting science and the arguments where the focus should be, and not on their provenance. Apart from the person himself, and perhaps his employer, who cares whether a good piece of work was done by a Nobel Prize winner or some third-rate test-tube jockey?* The same goes for a piece of junk. It’s the process, openness and sufficiency of checking that counts here.

          Plaudits, honours and the opinion of the scientific credit-rating agencies shouldn’t be used as proxies when you can get the real thing. OK, I know it isn’t that simple but the stress should be on ‘what’ not ‘who’ as much as possible.

          * Well, actually I do. Not everyone is blessed with talent and it’s nice to see the Forrest Gumps of the world do well too. :)

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 8:20 PM | Permalink

        Roman, I guess the name applied is not that important and, of course, a label can be freely interpreted and defined as the user may so chose, but in the end we all pretty much know who we are.

        I think we need to make a distinction between what you and SteveM are referring to and what others here, like me, might be referring. Your label is applicable to yourself and SteveM and Ross M and many other professionals who post here and can operate at a level or higher than those we might critique in climate science. The term citizen scientist might be reserved for those who have engineering and science backgrounds, or even non technical people, who have made an effort to educate and inform themselves on these matters such that, while not operating at a professional level, are able to make independent judgments on what they read in the literature concerning these matters. They do look to the independent-scientist for guidance and providing alternative views.

        I have had email conversations with a number of climate scientists and never felt our discussions suffered for lack of knowledge on my part. A couple of times I was referred to as a citizen-scientist and in my quest for answers that name held little import for me.

        • Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

          Humble and helpful. The reason ‘citizen scientist’ is wrong is not because it would be misleading for all who contribute or lurk here. It’s because it’s deeply misleading about those, like Steve, Ross and Roman, from whom climate scientists particularly needed to learn and open up to. Their refusal to learn (or to admit that they’ve learned, in the style of Gavin ‘Mystery Man’ Schmidt) is exactly what has built a following of outraged, scientifically literate others wishing to support them.

          Not that any such distinctions should ever have affected the provision of data and code supporting published results of climate scientists, on which policy was for so long being based. That data and code should have been for all, non-payroll and ordained, without distinction. That kind of openness, long before the internet, is what allowed the patent office clerk to make his contribution. That’s the relevance of that history.

          But Einstein, Faraday and co belonged, as Steve says, to a bygone era. We have to do right by ours. I support the motion!

  53. John Archer
    Posted Jun 24, 2012 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

    What about “ordained” versus “unordained”? [SM - Jun 24, 2012 at 4:05PM]

    I can see the headline in The Sun* now:
    Climate clergy charged with molesting underage data — proxologists examining tree rings for signs of abuse.

    * Choice UK tabloid.

  54. mrmethane
    Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 8:07 AM | Permalink

    Qualified vs. credentialed?
    Rent-seeking vs. ….. an appropriate word escapes me.

  55. Earle Williams
    Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    I like ‘non-establishment scientist’ as an alternative to ‘citizen scientitst’. Craig Loehle makes some good points upthread about there being no qualification test when publishing in a journal. So why the distinction for the independent author? It’s because he doesn’t belong, isn’t a member of the established group.

  56. Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    On the scientific aspect of the entire issue (as opposed to the political agenda and policy aspect), simply none of this would ever have happened if, from the start, the climate people had signed on real statisticians instead of doing it themselves.

    It isn’t like studies aren’t done with specialists in various fields.

    Was it – in the beginning – intentional? The agenda was certainly there from the moment the switch was made from approaching ice age to global warming. And probably before that; the ice age issue wasn’t sexy enough or flamboyant enough. Climate science was a backwater of science at the time.

    So was it a case of them trying to draw attention to themselves? Did they foresee the money – and careerism – it would draw? Did Hansen and the early few have any idea of the monolith they were creating?

    No, I wouldn’t think so. It is much more likely that they had grabbed a bull by the horns and did not know if it would ever take off like a rocket. And that is probably why it didn’t matter that they did the statistics themselves – who was going to really be paying attention anyway?

    Then later on, the die had been cast. Do-it-yourself statistics was the ingrained approach.

    Sooner or later a Michael Mann would take it too far.

    Sooner or later a Steve M was going to inquire – and notice things.

    Sooner or later they would have to circle the wagons.

    Once the backwater had been given center stage “sooner” became now. It is sort of amazing the feces didn’t hit the fan earlier.

    The hockey stick was that bridge too far.

    Steve Garcia

  57. Posted Jun 25, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    @ Earle Williams Jun 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM:

    I like ‘non-establishment scientist’ as an alternative to ‘citizen scientitst’. Craig Loehle makes some good points upthread about there being no qualification test when publishing in a journal. So why the distinction for the independent author? It’s because he doesn’t belong, isn’t a member of the established group.

    I suggest ‘non-credentialed scientist’ or ‘non-academic.’ A lay inquirer can be in agreement with the establishment, so ‘non-establishment scientist’ only covers the skeptical inquirers (or alternate researchers). There are several areas other than climate science in which non-academics are doing inquiries.

    Steve Garcia

  58. PhilH
    Posted Jun 26, 2012 at 7:41 AM | Permalink

    As a more appropriate description than “citizen scientists,” I would suggest the simple phrase, “other concerned scientists.”

  59. fastfreddy101
    Posted Jun 26, 2012 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Neutral Scientist?
    Impartial Scientist?
    Honest Scientist?

  60. Philip Lee
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    Isn’t the major objection to CRU and other professional “climate scientists” not the substance of their published claim but the lack of backing for them because the fail to share data to allow others to check their results and they respond in a political way to critical comment? That is, isn’t it that they fail to act as scientists?

    So, this discussion of “citizen scientist” vs. “scientist” seems all wrong. Who behaves in a way supporting the scientific method is a scientist. It might be relevant in some non-scientific discussions to use an adjective such as “unpaid” to describe a scientist, but for discussion of science itself such adjectives are irrelevant.

    In fact the very use of such adjectives mark a discussion as non-science and likely political. I’d avoid such descriptive adjectives altogether.

  61. John M
    Posted Jun 27, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    Boulton’s got a column in a similar vein in today’s Nature

    http://www.nature.com/news/open-your-minds-and-share-your-results-1.10895

    No mention of “citizen scientists”, but he does specifically refer to Climategate, and expressly recognizes it as an important event:

    We also need to be open towards fellow citizens. The massive impact of science on our collective and individual lives has decreased the willingness of many to accept the pronouncements of scientists unless they can verify the strength of the underlying evidence for themselves. The furore surrounding ‘Climategate’ — rooted in the resistance of climate scientists to accede to requests from members of the public for data underlying some of the claims of climate science — was in part a motivation for the Royal Society’s current report. It is vital that science is not seen to hide behind closed laboratory doors, but engages seriously with the public.

    • Posted Jun 28, 2012 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

      Yes, I just saw this column from Boulton. Perhaps he has finally seen the light, and is using this column to do “penance”- not only for the questionable use of “citizen scientists” in the RS report, but also for his role in Muir Russell.

      Some other quotable quotes from this article:

      True openness requires data to be not only accessible, but also intelligible, assessable (who produced the data, what are their qualifications, do they have conflicts of interest?) and reusable. [IPCC, pls take note! -hro]
      [...]
      Too often, we scientists seek patterns in data that reflect our preconceived ideas. And when we do publish the data, we too frequently publish only those that support these ideas. This cherry-picking is bad practice and should stop. [Joelle Gergis, are you listening? -hro]
      [...]
      And above all, we need scientists to accept that publicly funded research is a public resource. [emphasis added -hro]

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